Ernest Kiprono Ngeno and Brigid Kosgei scored a Kenyan double at the 16th edition of the Suissegas Milan City Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, on Sunday morning (3).
Ngeno crossed the finish line in Corso Venezia in 2:08:15, missing his personal best set in Hengshui in 2015 by 18 seconds. Ishhimael Bushendich Chemtan finished runner-up in 2:08:20, just five seconds outside his personal best. Last year’s Milan Marathon winner Kenneth Mungara took third place in 2:08:38 improving his world masters over-40 record by four seconds with 2:08:38.
Mungara broke the masters record for the first time in last year’s edition of the Milan Marathon with 2:08:44 and improved it by two seconds to 2:08:42 in Gold Coast last July.
Samuel Mwaniki also dipped under 2:10 to finish fourth in 2:09:45 ahead of Samuel Rutto (2:10:04).
Brigid Jepcheschir Kosgei produced the major surprise of the day in the women’s race, crossing the finish line first in 2:27:45 to smash her previous personal best of 2:47:59, set in Porto last year, by 20 minutes.
In the men’s race, a leading pack of 10 athletes – featuring pacemakers Samuel Kosgei Kiplimo and Henry Kiplagat, Samuel Mwaniki, Ishhimael Bushendich Chemtan, Kenneth Mungara, Ernest Ngeno, Samuel Rutto, Evans Korir, Philemon Kisang and three-time London Marathon champion Martin Lel – went through 5km in 15:10, 10km in 30:25 and passed the halfway mark in 1:04:29.
The leading pack held an irregular pace with kilometre splits of 3:15 at 21km and 2:52 at 22km. Lel became detached from the lead pack early in the race, and was dropped by more than three minutes by the halfway mark.
The two pacemakers, Samuel Kosgei Kiplimo and Henry Kiplagat, dropped out after going through 30km in 1:31:58. Nine top runners – Chemtan, Mwaniki, Ngeno, Kosgei, Rutto, Korir, Mungara, Chirchir and Kisang – remained in contention after the 30km mark.
The leading pack was soon whittled down to four runners – Mungara, Mwaniki, Ngeno and Chemtan – who increased their pace at 35km, dropping 2014 Turin Marathon winner Samuel Rutto. Ngeno launched his first major attack at 37km, and only Chemtan managed to keep his pace.
Ngeno and Chemtan ran neck and neck until the 40km point, but soon Ngeno began to pull away, and he crossed the line first in 2:08:15.
Ngeno started his professional running career in 2014 when he finished second in Turin in 2.10:01, one second behind Samuel Rutto. He then went on to win two marathon races in China in Hengshui (2:07:57) and Dongying (2:11:47) in 2015. Milan was just his fourth race over the marathon distance.
“I felt that I was in good form to win my third marathon,” said Ngeno, who comes from Kericho but is coached by Gabriele Nicola in Iten. “I realised that I could win when I decided to push the pace after 30km.”
Kosgei stuns the field
Brigid Kosgei ran in the lead from the early stages of the women’s race. The 21-year-old Kenyan went through 10km in 35:11 and passed halfway in 1:13:55. She reached 30km in 1:44:59, remaining on course for a 2:27 finish.
Kosgei increased her gap over Vera Nunes to more than seven minutes and crossed the finish line in 2:27:45 to win the second marathon of her career with a gun-to-tape performance.
“I started my running career in the cross country at the Discovery Kenya but I made my debut over the marathon distance last November in Porto,” said Kosgei. “I ran 2:47:55 there on a difficult course with a lot of ups and downs. I run in a training group in Kapsait. I knew that I could run under 2:30.”
Today’s Milan Marathon broke its previous record of entries, attracting 20,000 runners who took part in the three main events of this edition: 4532 marathon runners, 10,332 participants for the popular Relay Marathon, representing 2583 teams and 4871 children, who ran the 1.5 km school marathon.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
1 Ernest Ngeno (KEN) 2:08:15
2 Ishhimael Chemtan (KEN) 2:08:20
3 Kenneth Mungara (KEN) 2:08:38
4 Samuel Mwaniki (KEN) 2:09:45
5 Evans Korir (KEN) 2:10:04
1 Brigid Kosgei (KEN) 2:27:45
2 Vera Nunes (POR) 2:37:11
3 Dalin Belmonte (CUB) 2:42:44
4 Malika Ben Lafkir (MAR) 2:43:32
5 Judit Varga (ITA) 2.47:58